Chandigarh, February 9,Dr.Avnish Jolly : Commonwealth Secretary-General, Mr. Kamalesh Sharma inaugurated a five day Commonwealth Asia Regional Workshop on ‘Youth and Peace-building’ today at the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) Asia Centre. The workshop has brought together 35 young people from seven countries of Commonwealth Asia i.e. Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, India, Maldives, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka to discuss ways in which they can contribute towards conflict prevention / resolution and peace-building in their respective communities and countries.
Welcoming the Secretary-General, The Regional Director of the CYP Asia Centre, Mr. Raj K. Mishra said, “It is an honour for us that this is the Secretary General’s maiden visit to any CYP centre after assuming office in April 2008.” Tracing the genesis of the workshop to a mandate given by the Commonwealth Heads of Governments who endorsed the report of the Commonwealth Commission on Respect and Understanding, which was further endorsed by the Commonwealth Youth Ministers in their last meeting in Colombo in April, 2008, Mr. Mishra stated that this was the first ever initiative on the part of the Commonwealth Youth programme to engage young people in peace building. The knowledge and skills gained by the participants would enable them to work towards conflict resolution and peace building in their respective countries, he added.
Delivering his inaugural address, Mr. Sharma said, “The answer to all the challenges that the world faces today sits right before my eyes.” The youth has a big role to play especially in these times when the world is riven by conflicts everywhere, he added.
Dwelling on the strengths of young people, Mr. Sharma stated that reaching out to them is a lot easier than the older generation. They are not only more techno -savvy but more knowledgeable as well. “By logging on to their computers, they literally log on to the world at large.” This has also made them global citizens with a more receptive mind than their elders. Be it fighting against terrorism or dealing with global environmental issues, young people can be better relied upon to deliver. “The youth are not only the priority of the Commonwealth but my own priority as well”,he added.
Speaking about the Commonwealth Commission’s Report, ‘Civil Paths to Peace’, he stated that the recommendations and conclusions thereof are worthy of being implemented by governments, since it underscores the value of dialogue and conciliation. The workshop was attended among others by Dr. Pramod kumar, Director, IDC and Chairman of Punjab Governance Reforms Commission, Dr. S.N. Subbarao, eminent Gandhian, Prof. Sharma from the department of Gandhian Peace Studies, Punjab University and Dr. Annette Mathews, Faculty Head of Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development who are collaborating with the CYP Asia Centre in the conduct of the workshop.
While in Chandigarh, the Secretary-General will also be visiting the Commonwealth Youth Programme Technology Empowerment Centre (CYPTEC- on- Wheels) project in Bapu Dham colony tomorrow at 10:40 am. ‘CYPTEC on Wheels’ is a modified mini-bus (Mobile Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Learning Centre) equipped with ultra modern computer systems, mobile Internet facility, training aids and a trainer. The van travels from village to village and provides ICT training to Rural and urban slum dwelling youth. The project is running in and around Chandigarh since 2003 and has imparted ICT skills to about 2780 rural students and young people in villages and urban slums and covered over 55 villages and urban slums.